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Social Media
Building a clubhouse in someone else’s backyard.

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

After the top posts this week from Twitter and Facebook, you might be asking:

“Um, Gregg…there’s this little thing called Instagram? Ever heard of it? Where are the top ‘grams for 2018/19.”

That’s a great question. One that I’ve been asked a handful of times over the last year or two.

The answer comes in the form of a story.

Act 1: Come and Play!
Instagram’s API was never the most straightforward. Despite every user having a username, you could never use that username for a call. You had to find the userid (not as straightforward as you’d think), store that, and make calls using their ID instead. This was a small hassle at first to make sure I got it right for 300+ resorts, but pretty soon I was pulling data with no problem.

Act 2: Take is Easy
But as time went along, Instagram started to get a little bit more strict. New apps would have to be approved, old apps could continue going as is. So, for a few years, I had no issues pulling resort stats and using them in dashboards, lists, weekly reports, and more. But there were certainly concerns, at least long term.

Act 3: No API For You!
Then the fateful day came when every app – new or old – had to be approved. So I created my appliation, recorded a video showing them the great things resorts could do with this data, and waited. Two days later, my app was rejected. I tried again. No luck. In that moment, I lost access to Instagram data.

Nothing New
But this is nothing new. This phenomenon – taking the risk of building something that relies on someone else’s resources – has been happening for a long, long time.

And we see it everywhere, especially as marketers:

  • If you build your business on a specific marketing channel that you don’t own, you are at the mercy of that channel’s whims (think Facebook pages over the last 10 years)
  • If you build your business on a software platform, you are at the mercy of the company’s plans and goals and success (think RTP)
  • If you bulid a business that relies on the fluctuation of luck or global behavior, you are at the mercy of those forces when luck or behavior isn’t on your side (think weather and climate change)

And so it happened again here. And so it continues.

LinkedIn recently closed off their API in the same way. Facebook has limited calls from massive volumes (I was one making 50,000 calls a day with no issue) to less than 100 an hour. Klout (and their API) just disappeared.

Unavoidable?
I don’t think we can ever avoid building our clubhouses at least partially in someone else’s yard, but it’s always a good reminder that, when possible, it’s good to keep those risks in mind as we do.

So maybe Instagram is the last one I’ll lose access to.

Maybe it’s the first.

But either way, there’s a valuable lesson in the story that I’ve thought about more and more as of late, so I figured it was high time to tell it.


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